Napoleon III and his wife, Empress Eugénie, lived at Camden Place in the 1870s. They had a son, the Prince Imperial, who also came to Camden Place.
Chislehurst itself was put on the map by the presence of the French Imperial Family, hence “Royal Parade”, “Prince Imperial Road” and “Eugénie Cottage” to name but a few examples. But who were they? And why did they come to Chislehurst in the first place?
Plaque which can be found outside Camden Place today.
Translated, the inscription reads:
EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH
LIVED AT CAMDEN PLACE FROM 1871 TO 1873
HE DIED HERE ON 9 JANUARY 1873
THE EMPRESS LIVED HERE FROM 1870 TO 1881
THE PRINCE IMPERIAL LIVED HERE FROM 1870 TO 1879
HE DIED HEROICALLY IN SOUTH AFRICA IN BRITISH UNIFORM
It is worth noting that the French royal family, the Bourbons, had been overthrown during the French Revolution of 1789. Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) seized power from the Directoire (Directory). Upon Napoleon's exile to St Helena, a Bourbon king was restored to the French throne.
But as the famous saying goes, “the Bourbons learned nothing and forgot nothing from their experience.” King Charles X was overthrown in 1830. He was followed by King Louis Phillipe I, who was of the Orléan line.
By 1848, there were three political groups vying for the highest seat in France: the Bourbons, the Orléanists and the Bonapartists. Soon there was to be a fourth, the Republicans.